found at healthleadersmedia.com:
two florida hospitals now charge extra for non-emergency er visits
in mid-november, orange park medical center became the second northeast florida emergency room in recent months to ask the least sick of its patients to turn elsewhere for care or face a $100 fee. memorial hospital in jacksonville started the policy in august. both facilities are operated by hospital corporation of america.
florida times-union, nov. 30, 2006
Dec 8, '06
I'm not following the point of the story about the person with stomach pain. She didn't die of a failure to pay a $100 fee.
She also had symptoms (pain) that required evaluation and emergency care under EMTALA no matter what kind of fee would've been required.
And a patient who ruptured 15 minutes after arrival to the hospital likely would not have survived unless they ruptured on the O.R. table in a tertiary care facility.
This fee will in no way affect the provision of emergency care to patients who are truly suffering an emergency. EMTALA requires that any patient who comes to the ED deserves evaluation to determine if they have an emergency. This evaluation can be done by an RN as long as it's done according to hospital policy. If no emergency is determined to exist, the hospital has the right to turn people away...(this is according to federal law), or has the right to treat them, or has the right to charge them $100 for non-emergent treatment and turn them away if they won't pay.
You could criticize the facilities or the nurses, but this is law, and it's a reasonable law. There are far more protections in this law for patients than there are allowances for hospitals, and the allowances are all designed to serve the best interests of EMERGENCY patients seeking treatment in the EMERGENCY room.
I'd be pleased to stand before the nursing board in any of the states/districts where I hold a license; the boards of nursing cannot revoke the license of a nurse who conducts her/himself within the restrictions and allowances of law. And the referral of a non-emergent patient to another primary care provider is not a failure to protect the patient. The policy of charging a non-emergent patient for non-emergent care in an emergency room is not a failure to protect a patient.
As far as 'grey areas,' hospitals will always strive avoide litigation when it comes to determining if a patient is experiencing an emergency or not, meaning, they will usually treat someone that cannot be effectively ruled out as being non-emergent. With the volume of patients seeking primary care in emergency rooms, effectively overloading the providers and resources, it will inevitably happen that some will fall through the cracks, but that is just as much the fault of the abusers as the providers.
More than 75% of emergency visits are non-emergent. This is a problem, and hospitals are obligated to protect their emergent patients by encouraging their non-emergent patients to seek other venues. Hospital emergency departments are at an unique disadvantage because they are the only piece of our health care system that is mandated to evaluate patients. There are no laws requiring cardiologists to accept cardiac patients or family practitioners to accept general medical patients. They can simply shut the door and say no...which of course they won't do if they are offered compensation.
If any kind of practitioner can refuse a patient...even a critically ill patient, then emergency departments should exercize their already-granted privilege of either refusing or charging non-emergent patients for services.
I'm not sure why this doesn't make sense to anyone who has seen the routine chaos of modern-day emergency departments who could use this money to expand their facilities to accomodate these patients.
Last edit by Shamira Aizza on Dec 8, '06